Torture by music: Metallica and Eminem used to ‘break’ Iraqi soldiers

Metallica: "Glad to be part of it"
Metallica: "Glad to be part of it"

US military have been using music as a form of torture in Iraq. Psychological operations (or psyops) play Metallica's Enter Sandman or Eminem's White America at excruciating volumes as a way of 'breaking' Iraqi prisoners of war.

Both songs feature in a torture playlist compiled by American investigative magazine Mother Jones. Fuck Your God by death metal band Deicide tops the list while Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA and Barney The Dinosaur's I Love You are also popular choices.

The fact that Fuck Your God is actually anti-Christian and Born In The USA and White America focus on anti-establishment doesn't seem to matter. I Love You, sung by a happy-go-lucky purple dinosaur, is known in the torture trade as futility music - chosen to "convince the prisoner of the futility of maintaining his position".

Perhaps surprisingly, many artists don't take offence at the military's appropriation of their work. Metallica frontman James Hetfield had this to say: "If the Iraqis aren't used to freedom, then I'm glad to be part of their exposure. We've been punishing our parents, our wives, our loved ones with this music for ever. Why should the Iraqis be any different?"

The Guardian reports that 'torture by music' is not a new concept. Similar techniques involving loud noise and strobe lights pumped into cells were adopted by the FBI during the '90s and by the IRA as far back as the '70s. Psyops call this method "torture lite", which is handy because "heavy" torture is banned.

Here's Mother Jones' torture playlist in full:

1. Fuck Your God - Deicide
2. Die MF Die - Dope
3. Take Your Best Shot - Dope
4. White America - Eminem
5. Kim - Eminem
6. Barney Theme Song - Barney The Dinosaur
7. Bodies - Drowning Pool
8. Enter Sandman - Metallica
9. Meow Mix TV commercial
10. Sesame Street TV theme
11. Babylon - David Gray
12. Born In The USA - Bruce Springsteen
13. Shoot To Thrill - ACDC
14. Stayin' Alive - Bee Gees
15. All Eyes On Me - Tupac
16. Dirrty - Christina Aguilera
17. America - Neil Diamond
18. Bulls On Parade - Rage Against The Machine
19. American Pie - Don McLean
20. Click Click Boom - Saliva
21. Cold - Matchbox 20
22. Swan Dive - Hed P.E.
23. Raspberry Beret - Prince

Tom Porter worked on MusicRadar from its mid-2007 launch date to 2011, covering a range of music and music making topics, across features, gear news, reviews, interviews and more. A regular NAMM-goer back in the day, Tom now resides permanently in Los Angeles, where he's doing rather well at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).